OSC Recycling & Sustainability Service Group

A reflective blog exploring recycling & sustainability initiatives at the Overseas School of Colombo

Archive for March 2017

DP Geography Study of Pelawatte Recycling Operations

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The two recycling centers we visited (photo collage by Adrián Yáñez )

Solid waste is a global problem that is becoming difficult to manage. Most of us throw our garbage into a rubbish bin, but do we know where this garbage goes? On the 3rd of March, the DP 1 Geography class visited two recycling and scrap centers in the Pelawatte Area (near the OSC campus). They were relatively small places, but they gave the class an idea of what happens to the items that we throw away.

Solid waste management is a problem that Sri Lanka is facing, and there is only a small group of people who are working to recycle some of the items we throw away. In Colombo itself, 700 tons of garbage is collected each day (Roar), which is 58.6% of the total garbage collected in Sri Lanka (Sunday Times). To the majority of us, this value may not concern us, but where does this garbage go?

In Colombo, the garbage collected has historically been dumped at the Meethotamulla landfill, which is located 30 minutes from OSC, and has now become unusable, because of the various environmental hazards caused by the large amount of garbage dumped there. The problem in Sri Lanka is that the majority of garbage collected is not separated. Therefore it cannot be effectively recycled or disposed of. Based on a study conducted in 2012 by the Central Environmental Authority, 54.5% of the waste that is collected is biodegradable, which means that they can be composted (CSECM). If people were to compost this biodegradable waste, half of the garbage at the landfills would have never even be there. Separation is the key.

The people at the recycling and scrap centers we visited are examples of environmental heroes, who are not given the credit they deserve for the work they do. The picture below is the first recycling center we visited. It was a small place,but there is a lot of cardboard stacked out in front. All of that will be recycled. If this center was not there. That cardboard would have ended up at a landfill (or been burnt). Inside the the recycling center there were plastics, glass (bottles), and scrap metals which were all being collected to be recycled.

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Weighing the paper collected from school at the first recycling center (2 minutes from OSC). This is where the Recycling & Sustainability (Train to Sustain) service group takes its paper every Thursday.

Graph showing comparative buying costs for commonly recycled items in Pelawatte (where OSC sells its items), Battaramulla and the United States. Compiled and graphed by Thiany, Yuki & Malaika.

A graph comparing prices of low-cost recycled goods (buying price) in Pelawatte (where we sell our material, Battaramulla and the US.

The people who own centers like this, are not recycling materials because they want to save the environment, instead they are doing it for an economic reason. They are able to make money off recycling materials, and by doing this, both themselves and them and the environment are benefiting from it.

Solid waste disposal is becoming a huge problem that needs proper management. A step each of us can take is separating our biodegradable waste from the rest, and compost it. This would reduce almost half of the garbage that is collected from us, and in turn reduce half of the garbage that is dumped in a landfill. The next step is recycling items such as paper, and plastic. By taking these steps, solid waste would not be such a large problem.

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Concluding the field trip with reusable soft drink bottles

Article by Anaath & Adrian with contributions of the Class of 2018 DP Geography class. Data analysis and presentation by Thiany, Tuki & Malaika. Survey 123 data and analysis by Fatma, Easmond and Zoe. Photographs by Adrian and Mr. Lockwood.

WORKS CITED/FURTHER LINKS

Doole, Cassandra. “Garbage Separation And Recycling Are Finally Here (For Colombo, At Least).” Roar. 5 July 2016. Web.

“Garbage Collection and Recycling in the Dumps.” The Sunday Times Sri Lanka.”17 Jan. 2016. Web.

Sapra, Satyanshu. “The Business of Reincarnation – Bringing Discarded Metal Back to Life!”  Recycling & Sustainability Blog. 2014. Web.

Sustainable Approaches to the Municipal Solid Waste Management in Sri Lanka.” Municipal Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries (2016): 119-32. SECM. 13 Dec. 2015. Web.

Widanapathirana, Akash. “Biggest garbage generator tries to put house in order.” Sunday Times. 19 March 2017. Web.

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Written by recycling1011

2017-03-14 at 12:35 PM

2017 Progress in Recycling & Sustainability

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In the second semester of the 2016-17 school year a new crop of students joined the Recycling & Sustainability/ Train to Sustain team. We find ourselves busy once again managing the regular collections and doing various outreach activities to enhance solid waste reductions on the campus.There have been several developments in the last few weeks:

  • We have purchased a new set of plastic bins (made by Arpico with recycled plastic) that are being trialed out in classrooms for paper collection. They were bought with funds that we earn from selling waste paper.
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MYP 4 student Anuda providing a new plastic green paper recycling basket to Mr. Haris Darmasiri to be used in the OSC science labs.

  • Our local scrap dealer who we sell our collected paper to has asked us to separate colored paper from other (white A4 & A3) paper. He is willing to pay more for unmixed paper (LKR 8 instead of LKR 6). For folder cardboard he is willing to pay LKR12 instead of LKR 10. These are the first price increases that we have seen in almost 10 years.
  • The group is keen to explore and invest in a biodigester to better deal with some of our campus’ food waste. Aprico seems to have the best model. We have the money and now we just need to secure permission and devise a plan for the unit’s management and maintenance.
  • Several OSC classes have been on field trips to sites related to Solid Waste management and recycling. On February 24th the DP ES&S class visited the Viridis Recycling plant (a facility featured in a past post on this blog). Student leaders Aashika, Ary and Sangmin were all able to join this trip and once again we came away with a new appreciation for the extent and possibility of plastic recycling here in Sri Lanka. On March 3rd the DP Geography class visited our Pelawatte scrap dealer and his larger sister shop in Battaramulla (see images above). They conducted a short study on prices and the economics of recycling. I am now in touch with the Central Environmental Authority‘s Waste Management unit and we are planning class visits there in the coming weeks.

Photos & Text by Ian Lockwood, R&S/TTS Faculty Supervisor

 

 

Written by recycling1011

2017-03-10 at 12:46 PM

Posted in Train to Sustain